The Minneapolis Police Department has received some, shall we say, rather negative press for a series of ugly incidents — not just the George Floyd murder, but also other outrages. So the United States Department of Justice carried out an investigation. The results have been released in a 92 page document. It’s not pretty. Here is the summary of the major conclusions.
The Department of Justice has reasonable cause to believe that the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives people of their rights under the Constitution and federal law:
- MPD uses excessive force, including unjustified deadly force and other types of force.
- MPD unlawfully discriminates against Black and Native American people in its enforcement activities.
- MPD violates the rights of people engaged in protected speech.
- MPD and the City discriminate against people with behavioral health disabilities when responding to calls for assistance.
We like to think that Minnesota is a pretty good place to live — good schools, progressive politics, relatively good cost of living, etc., etc., etc. — but that only applies if you’re white. The report also documents some of our deeper problems.
Not everyone in Minneapolis shares in its prosperity. The metropolitan area that includes Minneapolis and neighboring St. Paul—known as the Twin Cities—has some of the nation’s starkest racial disparities on economic measures, including income, homeownership, poverty, unemployment, and educational attainment. By nearly all of these measures, the typical white family in the Twin Cities is doing better than the national average for white families, and the typical Black family in the Twin Cities is doing worse than the national average or Black families. The median Black family in the Twin Cities earns just 44% as much as the median white family, and the poverty rate among Black households is nearly five times higher than the rate among white households. Of the United States’ 100 largest metropolitan areas, only one has a larger gap between Black and white earnings.
In case you’re wondering how we ended up this way…
Some researchers have traced Minneapolis’ homeownership gap and other economic disparities back to the restrictive racial covenants that barred non-white people from living in many parts of Minneapolis in the first half of the 20th century. Beginning in 1910, local and federal public officials and mortgage lenders embraced racial covenants, and lenders engaged in redlining by routinely denying loans for properties in majority Black or mixed-race neighborhoods. The racially restrictive covenants, which the Supreme Court sanctioned in 1926 but later ruled unenforceable in 1948, funneled the City’s growing Black population into a few small areas and laid the groundwork for enduring patterns of residential segregation.
It’s as if there is an effect of history that is harming current generations, and a deep institutional racism routinely propped up by the courts.